What The Maths & Science Teaching Crisis Means For Learners

The question of whether teachers are adequately qualified to provide quality education in classrooms has received a lot of attention lately, given that only a small number of learners are managing to pass crucial subjects.

The issue of whether there are sufficient teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects particularly, Maths and Science has long been of great concern.

Education experts have suggested that the decline in learner performances STEM subjects can be attributed to the shortage of qualified mathematics teachers and teaching methods.

According to a recent study that was presented to parliament, only 43.3% of High School Maths and Science Heads of Departments (HOD) in the country are equipped to offer adequate support to teachers.

The study revealed that more than half of the country’s high school maths and science HOD’s have no suitable qualifications in these subjects, with most having majored in subjects such as history and geography.

This finding, along with the 30% maths pass rate requirement has been highlighted as the main reason why matriculants are unable to graduate with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) subjects that South Africa is in desperate need of.

CEO of ed-tech platform IDEA, Dr Corrin Varady says that part of the crisis is that the basic education system is heavily focused only on pass rates particularly when it comes to subjects like Maths and Science.

Varady noted that the greater crisis is the lack of effort being made to promote higher education rights and the development of highly qualified individuals in the country.

There was a movement that said that if we are not performing very well in Maths and Science, then perhaps we should allow students to not do those subjects. There’s a responsibility that is beyond just teachers in making sure that our students are prepared to take on the world.

He adds, “Maths and Science may not be the top subjects students are achieving at, but they certainly are important because they give those higher-order thinking processes that we need later on in life.”

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Varady said that if teachers have fantastic teaching styles, they will be able to fill the gap in terms of subject matter knowledge and this could assist the country with the shortages that are currently being faced.

Meanwhile, Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga says that over the years, the country has been successful in the development of maths and science.

However, in an attempt to further address the crisis, she has instructed her department to redirect some of the excess funds from the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme toward maths and science development.

The minister also noted that the department works with the Higher Education sector, as it is responsible for the development of teachers.

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